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Intense training

Posted by on May 25, 2011

Zanzibar is 10 hours ahead of San Francisco time, which means the best time to set up a Skype call is when it’s early morning here and night in SF.  Stacy and I had a call with Bryan and Michelle, our advisors, planned for 7 am ZNZ (Zanzibar) time, or 9 pm SF time.  In order to get to the office by 6:45 to set up, we met at 6:30.  Normally that would be considered early, but I was awake before 5 am and couldn’t get back to sleep.

I love the sounds in the mornings here: the call to prayer, the roosters crowing, the car horns, the people.  It is quite foreign, but not in an unwelcoming way.

We talked to Bryan, Michelle, Kim, and Jaclyn for nearly an hour, then started a very busy day of training.  Stacy wanted to leave at 11 am to enjoy some time with her sister before they go back to the US on Thursday, but even though we worked really hard all morning without a break, we hadn’t accomplish everything we set out to by noon.  We wanted to give additional supplies to some of the district supervisors who were coming in this week, but in order to get their packets completed, we had to print labels and have copies made of the consent forms and questionnaires. We also had to figure out how many labels/barcodes to print for each clinic and what number to start at.  That took much longer than expected.

I also learned data entry, how to fill out vouchers (to pay for the copies), how to pay the district supervisors (with a voucher) and how to do data compare between two entries.  I also made about a hundred filter paper packets which are used to collect blood specimens for genotyping the malaria strains.

I worked pretty much non-stop from 7 am until 4:30, with only a 15 minute break to check my e-mail and eat my last cliff bar (I still don’t have any food at my house).  Stacy left for a while then came back and brought me some rice and curry she made for lunch.  She’s amazing.

Finally, at 4:30 I had enough.  Everyone else was packing up to go home and nearly everyone had gotten there after me so I decided to head home too.

I had Masoud pick me up so I could tell him that the water flow in my bathroom sink is just a trickle and to ask about an internet connection at the house.  Neither of those were resolved today, but TIA; maybe tomorrow.

Since I didn’t have anything for a reasonable meal, I set off to get some food (and likely get ripped off in the process).  There’s nothing like a grocery store here; things are sold in a series of stands on the street where nothing has a price tag and you have to bargain for everything.  I don’t know what anything should cost and everyone will tell you there are two prices: a price for those who speak Swahili and a price for those who don’t.  I need to move from one category to the other.  Each shop sells a small variety of things so I had to go to three places to get oil, salt, rice, spaghetti, vegetables and toilet paper.  I couldn’t find any other spices so it was going to be a rather bland meal.  And I couldn’t find anyone who knew what “dish soap” was so I resigned myself to using Dr. Bronner’s for washing dishes as well as my clothes.

I had planned on making rice and veggies, but then realized that I didn’t have a measuring cup for the rice or water, so I decided to make pasta instead.

The electric stove that we have is very small, about 2/3 the size of one in the US, but still has 4 burners.  However, the knobs only have the numbers 1-6 instead of a marking indicating what is hot and what is cold.  I tried to boil water for 30 minutes and only succeeded in getting the smallest of bubbles to rise when I gave up and just ate veggies.

Do you know how much harder it is to prepare veggies when you don’t have a cutting board and only have one dull knife?  I guess I have a few more things to the “we need” list.  The owner of the house will supply all cooking and eating utensils.

Oh, and did I mention that you can’t drink untreated water because there’s cholera here?  I was planning on boiling some tonight so I don’t have to keep drinking the iodine water (glad I brought those tablets!) but I scratched that idea.  Luckily I brought some lemon lime flavored electrolyte mix to cover the iodine flavor a bit.

Needless to say, I haven’t been eating or sleeping as well as I should, but I’m sure that will improve.  Tanya is arriving on Thursday (her flight was delayed by a day) and once I have someone here, I will be forced to shop and eat better.

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